Management and tenants at Van Nuys Airport are getting closer to agreeing on how long to close the airport’s main runway during a planned repair project.
While a construction schedule still needs to be worked out, the two sides are seeing more eye to eye on how to refurbish the 8,000-foot runway.
Early estimates by airport management and Los Angeles World Airports had the runway closing for up to four weeks. Major tenants at the airport operating hangars, maintenance facilities, and aircraft charter and management firms balked at that timeframe, saying it would hurt their businesses as they recover from the recession.
“The dialogue has come a long way and the challenge is that last inch,” said Curt Castagna, president of the Van Nuys Airport Association, the group that represents the tenants.
LAWA staff had recommended putting an asphalt overlay on the shoulders of the runway while reconstructing the 50-foot wide center, or keel, section of the main runway. The tenants association hired their own engineers who determined following inspections and testing that an asphalt overlay could be placed on much of the runway.
The airport is now in agreement on doing an overlay on a 4,500-foot section of the runway as it could be done in a way to provide a 20-year lifespan necessary to make the project eligible for federal funding, said airport Manager Jess Romo.
The airport does believe there are some short sections that would require reconstruction – a lengthier process than an overlay – and that discussions are still taking place on whether the work will be done, Romo said.
“We have an obligation to the flying public and our corporate customers to do this so there is a strong expectation when they touch down the runway will support their aircraft,” Romo said.
The two sides are also discussing how to phase the work to mitigate the closure of the runway when work takes place on the center section. Repairs to the north and south ends will shorten the runway but it will remain open, Romo said.
The maximum amount of resources will be put toward the center section of the runway to keep the closure to a minimum of days, Romo said.
Doing the work during nighttime hours is an option up for discussion, Castagna said.
“The project might take longer but it is something to consider,” Castagna said.